Typos p. 91: Hirschfield [= Hirschfeld]; p. 97: Green [= Greene]; p. 98: innoculated [= inoculated]; p. 100: unforunate [= unfortunate]; p. 129: cutural [= cultural]
(1) The influence of the virago.
In the constitution of man and woman, as I have already pointed out, male and female components are mixed, so that each male has a certain amount of female, and each female a certain amount of male elements.
Weininger, who was the first to popularize this fact, took it from Schopenhauer, though even Dr. Magnus Hirschfield had also stated it long before Sex and Character appeared. 1
Thus, theoretically, a male need possess no more than 50.1 per cent. male, and a female no more than 50.1 per cent. female, elements. But the higher the percentage of the other sex in either, the less is the individual likely to be a well adapted member of society.
We must therefore accept the fact that, just as many girls are born who are predestined viragoes that is, congenitally masculinoid, who are unlikely to be happy when functioning as normal females so there are many boys born who are predestined effeminates.
The limit of male elements in a female and of female elements in a male, beyond which either ceases to be a normal member of his or her sex and incapable of happy adaptation as such, has not yet
1 See WELT ALS WILLE UND VORSTELLUNG, Vol. II, Chap. 44 and GESCHLECHTSKUNDE, Vol. I, pp. 484485. The relevant passages in these two books will at once reveal how unoriginal Weininger was on p. 29 of SEX AND CHARACTER.
The first is the power of environment and bodily habits to influence the development of male elements in the female. 1
And the second is the power of environment to make recessive those male elements in the female which are not abnormally potent or prominent.
It has already been pointed out that in an environment like that of England and North America, where the Greek male accent hangs heavily over every aspect of life, there is a tendency in any case to favour the women with so-called "boyish" figures, with small hips, long slim legs, and flat chests. So that in these countries females with a high percentage of male elements in their constitution are likely to be born in unusually large numbers.
Provided, however, that these masculinoid females are morphologically still normal enough to bear children without difficulty, their masculinity does not matter from the standpoint of their happy adaptation, if only their sexual partners happen to be males of such overwhelming masculinity that no male elements belonging to any female could possibly measure themselves against this masculinity without the certainty of an absolute rout.
In that case, the presence of pronounced masculine traits in the women might be an advantage, because it would support instead of diluting the overwhelming masculinity of the male and thus produce a virile, metallic breed of men. There is no doubt, for
1 See the general discussion on this topic in my CHOICE OF A MATE (pp. 476481), especially the findings of Dr. Riddle, regarding the increased metabolism induced by athleticism in females, and its arrest of their normal female development.
Where any degeneracy of the male may have occurred it must, however, follow that an abundance of such masculinoid females would give rise to grave maladjustments. Since in such circumstances, these badly adapted masculinoid women, finding no man able to make their male elements recessive, would begin to assert themselves, it follows that in all countries producing masculinoid women, degeneracy of the male necessarily leads to a powerful Feminist Movement and to a large band of discontented and unhappy women.
This is to a great extent what has happened in England and America, where the masculinoid woman is not nearly such a bane as the degenerate male with whom she tries in vain to find her adaptation.
Weininger seems to have been approaching this truth for he says: "A woman's demand for emancipation and her qualifications for it, are in direct proportion to the amount of maleness in her." And,
1 See Journ. of Anthropol. Inst. Feb. 1892, p. 307.
What he fails to see is the part necessarily played by male degeneracy in permitting the male elements m even the least masculinoid of females to develop or to cease from being recessive.
In this respect and on the basis of morphology alone, it is curious that there is a marked disparity between Anglo-Saxon and French and South European women. For although women of commanding intelligence have always abounded in France and Southern Europe, these regions have never, as Weininger points out, 2 "had a successful woman's movement," and almost all their women have a short leg-trunk ratio compared with English and North American women.
An unsophisticated Englishman, gazing on the women of such painters as Degas or Renoir, is usually horrified by their proportions, and, accustomed to the masculinoid females popularised by the Greek homosexual tradition, he thinks the Continental women must be deformed.
Nor is it without interest that a sculptor, like Auguste Rodin, distinctly philo-Hellenic in taste, had the greatest admiration for long-legged English women and always had them as models if he could. 3
A glance at the novels published in England during the last 50 years will leave little doubt in the mind of any investigator that the boyish type of female is
1 SEX AND CHARACTER (pp. 6465 and 73).
2 Ibid p. 74.
3 See my REMINISCENCES OF AUGUSTE RODIN, p. 122.
Thus, I submit that, in Anglo-Saxon countries, there is a strong morphological tendency in the females to include a high percentage of viragoes. As, in these countries, a marked decline in masculinity has occurred among the males, these women can find no happy adaptation, their male elements cannot be made recessive, and they all suffer from a sense of frustration and disillusionment.
As inferior males, whose elements of another sex than their own have been allowed to develop, they tend to suffer the pangs of the Adlerian complex, which is supposed to arise from inferiority feelings, and they are inclined to be bitter and resentful, especially towards men. As aberrants and fish out of water, moreover, they also tend to harbour a secret jealousy of their more normal sisters, and strive to convert them to their own negative standpoint towards both men, life, and the normal female's function. 2
Given, however, the subjectivity of all moderns, especially women, these viragoes would not even need
l On pp. 30, 31 and 373374 of my CHOICE OF A MATE, I have noted a few instances. But they abound. One not yet given occurs in Howard Spring's O ABSOLOM! (p. 329) where a "desirable" girl is described as follows: "She had a strong resolute look but was tall and beautifully feminine, with long legs and narrow hips." Beautifully feminine with that build! This is possible only in a culture quite unconscious of its dominant masculine accent. See also PEKING PICNIC by Ann Bridge, where the authoress's idea of a desirable girl approximates the male ideal.
2 For a woman's confirmation of the fact that negative women are increasing in England, see Arabella Kenealy: FEMINISM AND SEX EXTINCTION, pp. 8285, and many other passages.
As schoolmistresses, University dons, and even as senior friends, such women can, therefore, do an untold amount of mischief, 1 and when female education is made to follow strictly male examples and patterns, as it has for many decades now in England, we may be certain that one or more viragoes, together with some unconscious male Socratics (Professor H. Sidgwick or Professor T. H. Green, for example) have been exerting their influence.
For since, as I have shown, environment and habit can modify constitution, and violent sports can produce deleterious changes in the female's reproductive system, 2 the policy of letting loose a body of viragoes to mould female education as they think fit and with eyes constantly squinting enviously towards the male, must constitute a bane both to the girls who fall under their influence, and to the nation as a whole. Simultaneously it greatly fortifies Feminism by either adding new recruits to its ranks, or spreading its bias and its ideals throughout the women of the country.
And in this respect a few extracts from a symposium
1 For a Feminist's confirmation of this point, see Amber Blanco White's frank criticism of English Girls' schools in Chap. XX of her book WORRY IN WOMEN (London, 1941).
2 See my CHOICE OF A MATE, pp. 476481.
Elizabeth Bowen, writing about Downe School (The Mulberry Tree) hints at the ungirlish demeanour deliberately cultivated there when she says: "In the week, curvilinear good looks were naturally at a discount and a swaggering, nonchalant air cut the most ice." 2
E. Arnot Robertson, writing about Sherborne (Potting Shed of the English Rose) says: "'Run about girls, like boys, and then you won't think of them!' That was Sherborne."
Later on she writes: "If you have a daughter at a public school, which heaven or sensible parent forbid, you will have seen a reassuring paragraph in the prospectus which reads in all cases something like, 'Great and individual care is taken of the girl's health.' Imagine for yourself the difficulty of taking great or individual care of the health of two or three hundred girls in a lump, while encouraging the lump to be as refinedly boyish as possible; I have never heard of any girls' public school that was not made a weak copy of a boys'." 3
In another passage she describes the atmosphere more narrowly. She says: "The School Type, which was our pattern, was the epitome of the team spirit, and this, like prolonged discussion of sports, just does not come naturally to the female." 4
1 Jonathan Cape, London, 1934.
2 THE OLD SCHOOL, p. 53.
3 Ibid., p. 176. This passage is a most striking confirmation of all I wrote in Chapter VI of my WOMAN: A VINDICATION, published eleven years before THE OLD SCHOOL. See also LAURA MARHOLM (op. cit. Vol. I, p. 39).
4 Op. Cit. p. 179.
Finally, this paragraph spills the whole of the beans:
"It is very difficult to convey the atmosphere of an English public school for girls to anyone who has the good fortune not to have been sent to one. They are or at least this one was in my time run on a male system imperfectly adapted to female needs." 2
One could hardly be more explicit or more abundantly confirm my claim that, under the male accent now dominating our civilization, the only question ever put is: "Is it right for the Male?" and, if it is, without further ado, it is assumed to be not only right but also desirable for the female.
Nor did it surprise me to read that all hints about sex and the sex life made to the girls by their virago mistresses are calculated to create an aversion from it; for, on my assumption that such women are bound to think and reason subjectively, what else could be possible?
Very rarely, however, does such a revelatory document as E. Arnot Robertson's essay in The Old School fall into our hands and, as coming from a woman who is a first-hand witness of the system she describes, it is invaluable. 3
1 P. 180.
2 P. 174.
3 A good book on female education, written by a modern woman who was an experienced head-mistress, is WASTED WOMANHOOD, by Charlotte Cowdroy (London, 1933).
A normally grown girl of my acquaintance was, on the advice of the gymnastic instructor at her public school, made to stand for some time every day with a dumbell between her knees because, if you please, her normal female knock-knees (the feature Havelock Ellis and Dr. Heilborn foolishly deplored) were considered a "defect" requiring correction! Presumably, the less normal girls, with straight, masculine legs, were nor considered defective!
No wonder a sensible woman, like Dr. Esther Harding, writing on Anglo-Saxon female emancipation, is able to exclaim: "They have been content to be men in petticoats and so have lost touch with the feminine principle within themselves. This is perhaps the main cause of the unhappiness and emotional instability of to-day." 1
In addition to the other evil influences of the virago in our midst, there must be reckoned her radical, though often secret, loathing of men. The Frenchman, Proudhon, was aware of this, 2 and it can be discerned in all Feminist literature. Under the cover of agitating and working only for the "good" of women, the viragoes thus spread their bitter hostility to the male wherever their influence extends, and only the most obtuse of their victims can be blind to it.
It comes conspicuously to the fore when one of these viragoes happens to find the smallest excuse for publicly assaulting a man. Then, trading on the crowd's old-fashioned chivalry, which is a relic of pre-
1 WOMAN'S MYSTERIES (London, 1935, pp. 2021).
2 AMOUR ET MARIAGE, Part II, Sect. XXVII, where he speaks of the Feminists' "jalousie et haine secrète de l'homme."
The provocation in such cases is usually negligible. What suddenly bursts is the woman's pent up loathing of men and her eagerness to vent it.
I am prepared to go a long way with anyone who, on the basis of Nietzsche's profound and little known remark about the relationship of the sexes "Love, in its foundation, is the mortal hatred of the sexes" 2 argues that, no matter what we may do, the sexes are bound to be at daggers drawn, and that only the urgency of their sexual needs effects a temporary truce to their warfare.
I would but reply to those who, on Nietzschean grounds, justify the attitude of the virago, that Nature is one thing and human society another. The latter thrives and survives thanks to certain conventions and fictions. Among the life-promoting conventions, is the poetic fiction of human heterosexual love, and if we are to sweep it away because in the secrecy of the philosopher's cell it is agreed that it is only a fiction, we must. immediately look to the foundations of modern civilisation, because they will need to be completely reconstructed.
Besides, why should the virago alone be permitted to act and think on the basis of the mortal hatred of the sexes? Why should she enjoy all the immunities, the safety, comfort and privileges built on the fiction of the mutual love and respect of the sexes, and yet
1 For instance, see DAILY MAIL, 311229; article headed, Driver's Ears Boxed.
2 ECCE HOMO, CHAPTER III, Sect. 5.
Unless she is prepared to face and shoulder all the consequences of her fight for this profound philosophic truth as against the life promoting fiction of heterosexual "love" and the consequences would involve a breach with all the traditional bonds of marriage, family and parenthood she had far better keep her loathing of man, with her other unsavoury dreams, to herself, and turn her mind to more harmless considerations.
For the virago might be defined as the woman, who, deprived of any urgent need to satisfy her sex impulses, and feeling no motive for believing in the poetic fiction about the love of the sexes, comes out frankly and nakedly with that mortal hatred of man which is rooted beneath the trustfulness even of the normal woman.
Unfortunately, in our civilization, the virago and her like find a philosophy ready to hand which supports their most extravagant claims. For, whether they wish to preach the so-called "equality" of the sexes, or woman's "right" and capacity to compete with man in all public spheres; or to dissuade young, healthy and normal women from going over to the enemy man, and from living in normal heterosexual union, with motherhood and domesticity as their accomplishments, they find all the necessary positions and principles established by Socrates over two thousand years ago. They have only to apply them to current circumstances.
Thus the virago and her like find in the philosophy of the White Man, especially in Anglo-Saxon countries, the most favourable soil for the prosperous growth of their school of thought.
This explains why, of all the Feminist phases of the post Socratic world, the present phase has endured longest and has been marked with most success.
If, and this consideration is important Feminism has not met in Southern and Latin Europe with the success it has in England and America, it is due, in addition to the more normal morphology of the women in these areas, to the powerful Aristotelian tradition which is a heritage of their long adherence to Catholicism. For, as I need hardly point out to the scholar, Aristotle was the chief Greek influence in Catholicism, just as Socrates was the chief Greek influence in Protestantism, and even the more normal morphology of Latin women may be due to the healthier of the two Greek influences.
It is not denied that Christianity, as ultimately derived from Socrates, displays Socratic features even in Catholic countries. All I claim is that, in Catholic countries, the extreme application of Socratic principles, especially those involving contempt of the body, have been traditionally neutralized by the wholesome influence of Aristotle, just as they were neutralized in
(2) The influence of normal Anglo-Saxon women on the progress of Feminism has been restricted to the negativism towards the sexual life and motherhood, generated in large numbers of them by the disappointing and often repellant sexual life they have led with the man who is produced in Puritanical countries. Devoid of any mastery in the arts of love, behaving in sexual matters always with a certain sense of guilt, and nearly always bereft of the fire that purifies, this man makes the most heartbreaking sexual partner and, instead of convincing woman, as the Continental does, of the absurdity of the Puritanical attitude to the body, does all in his power (unintentionally, of course!) to nauseate her with the whole of "that side of life".
Now, wives whose sexual life has been anything but an experience of the joie de vivre necessarily lend a willing ear to any propaganda about the unfortunate lot of women, the vanity of matrimony, and the happiness of unmarried women. They become, moreover, ready mouthpieces for the dissemination of these doctrines among their juniors, and since they speak from experience, what they say with sadness carries even more conviction than the bitter diatribes of the viragoes.
Moreover, there is this added woe to their married life: owing to their usually late marriages, the imbecilities of modern dieting in pregnancy, and the incompe-
1 Many examples could be. given of this. They are to be found in the saner attitude towards degeneracy and bodily health, towards bodily pleasures, and towards beauty, in the English Middle Ages. See, for some of these examples my MAN: AN INDICTMENT and THE CHOICE OF A MATE.
Strange confirmation of this comes from a speech made by Dr. G. Dick Read at the Ministry of Health on March 13th, 1936. This eminent gynaecologist said: "The number of women to-day who are willing to tell their young friends of the joys and happiness of motherhood is extremely few. Almost invariably they tell of the troubles, the dangers, the pain and risks that a girl must endure." 2
The value to Feminism of such "experienced" adverse testimony to the joys of matrimony and motherhood has, in Anglo-Saxon countries, been immense. One has only to think of the number of married women in England and America who have become ardent and embittered Feminists to appreciate that, even among those wives who have not ventured before the public with their views, the steady work of promoting the Feminist standpoint must have been formidable.
(3) As regards the influence of the old spinster in promoting Feminism, this, on the whole, has exceeded even that of the disillusioned wife. For, although everything an old spinster says against Life, Man and Motherhood, is naturally listened to with suspicion, there are other ways besides hostile harangues, of pro-
1 See my TRUTH ABOUT CHILDBIRTH for all the factors which now conspire to make maternity an ordeal.
2 DAILY PRESS, 19336.
The very contentedness and prosperous appearance of a spinster of fifty, apart from anything she may say, is, in itself, the best plea in favour of the celibacy recommended by St. Paul. Especially is this so if those who contemplate her have recently seen a wife scarred with motherhood, or else embittered by her sexual life with the average Anglo-Saxon male.
In this respect, the wholly different opinion of the middle-aged spinster, held in Latin countries from that held in England and America, is not without significance. 1 For, in order to survive as a contented spinster, two prerequisites are necessary which are seldom found in conjunction abroad.
The first is a bodily equipment which is sufficiently lacking in temperamental vigour not to suffer from non-functioning as a normal female, and the second is an environment in which the female wrecks (either physical, mental or emotional, or all three) of matrimony and motherhood exist in great profusion.
Both these conditions are fulfilled in the case of thousands of Anglo-Saxon spinsters, and the survival of the latter, free from any of the ravages of frustration, instead of redounding to their discredit as creatures below the norm, becomes one of the most eloquent arguments in favour of celibacy for all the ignorant and uninitiated who meet them.
The hundreds of thousands of more positive spinsters, who do not survive, or who do so with less success, and who owing to their psycho physical prostration, end in lunatic asylums, or in lingering deaths
1 On this point, see my WOMAN: A VINDICATION, pp. 247248, and THE CHOICE OF A MATE, pp. 249250.
On the other hand, happy, contented and negative spinsters of middle age compose probably thirty per cent of the population of all our provincial hotels and boarding houses. They are seen by multitudes every year, and they do not need to lift their voices in favour of the Feminist programme in order to prove its eminent sanity to the simple-minded.
If, however, in addition they lend their influence, their financial help, and their voices to the Feminist Cause, it must not be supposed that, in this country at least, this assistance is negligible owing to its origin. On the contrary, it is very powerful, and the history of Feminism, from Mlle. Scudéry to Christabel Pankhurst, teems with the figures of such spinsters who, besides being adapted to celibacy, have strained every nerve to promote the success of the Movement.
Certain it is that the bitterest things against men, as can be seen from the literature, have been uttered by negative spinsters. Their influence as teachers, matrons, dons, or superintendents, enables them to impose their view of life on the female adolescent and thus to be most helpful in the propagation of the Feminist ideology.
This was a fact not unknown to Dickens who, in The Mystery of Edwin Drood, describing Miss Twinkerton reading aloud, says: "She cut the love-scenes, interpolated passages in praise of celibacy, and was guilty of other glaring frauds." 1
1 Chapter XXII, penultimate paragraph.
In addition to the voices raised by viragoes and abnormal women generally in favour of Woman's so-called "Emancipation," we have to reckon with the influence of those rare members of the female sex who, like Charlotte Perkins Stetson, and a few others, have peered unusually deeply into the present plight of their sisters, have certain useful things to tell us, and are not necessarily abnormal because they happen to be both women and Feminists.
Such rare creatures in our Anglo-Saxon world dwell almost exclusively on some genuine injustice borne by their sex, and to include these isolated figures roughly among the mass of those who clamour blindly for Female Emancipation, the preposterous "Vote," and other ridiculous supposed privileges, would be both unscientific and foolish.
Now there is one aspect of the unjust lot of women in European civilisation of which, even as a boy, I was keenly aware, and perhaps the best way to introduce the subject vividly is to describe the circumstances in which I first stood on tip-toe ready to proclaim it to my fellows.
The occasion was the dinner given in London to Auguste Rodin in January, 1904, by the Society of Sculptors, Painters and Gravers. I was twenty-two years of age and, sitting at one of the side tables among the less famous members of the Society, I listened attentively to the speeches. As I did so, and contemplated the faces or the men at the high table and all about me, I could not help commenting inwardly on their air of self-complacency and smug
She too had worked hard. She too had been conscientious and painstaking. She had, above all, been what many of those about me had probably never been thrifty and economical. She had had to be both. And yet, where was her fame? My father's achievement, whatever its actual merits may have been, would have proved impossible without her.
But she was not the only woman behind the scenes. Scores of the men about me had probably left other women equally meritorious and essential to their achievement. Rodin certainly had. Where was their glory and fame?
And, as I pondered thus, I suddenly felt an overpowering impulse to stand up when all the toasts were over, and raise my glass to the women who had worked in private, in silence and alas! in oblivion, to help all these self-satisfied men to achieve what they had achieved.
I secretly rehearsed my speech. I thought I would begin by pointing out that, all too frequently, at such gatherings as these, when a general patting on the back was the rule among men of some fame, there was a total disregard of the women, who behind the closed doors of these men's houses, made the performance
Apprehensive and uneasy for I had never yet raised my voice in public I waited impatiently for the last speech. It seemed hours before it was over. And then, alas! and I regret my failure to this day when my opportunity did at length come, I hesitated until all was lost. If only I had not been obliged to wait so long; had I only been able to stand up when my inspiration occurred, I think I should have succeeded. But during the fatal wait, I had had leisure to ponder my relative unimportance (I was the youngest male present), my position as no more than my father's guest and other considerations which weakened my resolve.
Thus, to my undying regret, that contemplated maiden speech was never uttered, and when I returned home, I could not help, for a little while, feeling as if I had rather betrayed my mother.
Now I at least, at the age of twenty-two, had quite spontaneously, without the aid of books, perceived a gross injustice in the lives of the good women of our civilization, women not numbered in thousands, but in tens of millions. I had perceived it through contemplating my mother's existence relative to my father's and the whole family's.
I had seen that, in return for her mere keep, her security, her sustenance, clothing and shelter, she had performed a life-long task of mighty importance, not only for my father, myself and my brothers and sisters, but for the whole of society. She had, like millions of other good women in Europe, striven day after day, year in and year out, without any sort of
Now it is evident that the merit in such cases is in inverse ratio to the number of domestic helps that are paid to labour for the housewife. Among the poorest, who have and can have no paid servants, it is, therefore, highest, and it diminishes pari passu almost to zero, as we rise to the level where the lady is a mere figurehead to a household run by a paid housekeeper and a staff of servants.
Thus, the housewife among the poor, who rears a family and discharges all her household duties as well, is a heroine, and the extraordinary feature of our Western civilization is that, while millions of such heroines have lived and died in each generation for centuries, they have been passed over unhonoured, unrewarded aye, unnoticed.
Havelock Ellis has said that in England "motherhood is without dignity." 1 He might have added that domesticity is without dignity either. For, in a society where from the Western States of North America almost to the confines of Asia, honour is vouchsafed only to wealth, it was inevitable that unremunerated duties, like those of domesticity and motherhood, should be bereft of dignity. 2 All the more reason, therefore, why the rulers ought everywhere to have
1 STUDIES IN THE PSYCHOLOGY OF SEX, Vol. VI, p. 4.
2 Amber Blanco White, in her book, WORRY IN WOMEN (London, 1941), writing as a Feminist, bears me out fully on this point. She says (pp. 18, 19 and 93), "In the first place the domestic arts are despised in England. The average middle-class English girl dislikes housework and cooking and would very much prefer to employ a nurse to look after her children.
That this should not have been done merely adds one more item, and perhaps the gravest, to the long list of tasteless, stupid and inhuman acts of omission and neglect for which the rulers of our materialistic and gold worshipping Western civilization have for centuries been responsible.
The reply to this usually takes the form of enumerating the many immeasurable and intangible rewards which the good mother and housewife obtains through the love and devotion of her mate and children. People say: "Look how she is loved and respected!"
But even if this were always true, it would not be enough! If one's functions are without dignity, they inevitably tend to become undignified and lacking in honour in the eyes of one's intimate circle, particularly where that intimate circle has enough intelligence to be emulative without possessing very fine feeling. And, indeed, in countless poor homes to-day and in the past, what is and has been noticeable is the cavalier manner with which the adolescents, as soon as they begin to earn, treat the one member of the
The housework and cooking at least she does against the grain, and without any great effort to improve. . . . All the time they are doing their work they (English women) are hankering after a different kind of life. . . Domestic work in short is regarded as inferior work, servant's work, work for the stupid and unenterprising and unattractive . . . much housework, as we are constantly told by our doctors and as few of us believe, is in itself a wholesome occupation. Unfortunately its value is counteracted in many women by the low esteem in which it is held and the consequent feeling that it is an unworthy, inferior, miserable sort of occupation." See also p. 99 Ibid.
Filial affection there may be. Often this affection overrides the impulse to despise that which is without dignity. But very often it does not. So that even the one reward which society reckons will infallibly be hers is, in far too many instances, snatched from the hard-working and conscientious mother and housekeeper. Without taking into account the potent impetus of sexual passion, indeed, it is frequently difficult, especially in the working classes, to understand why the girls marry at all. In their own homes they are and have been daily witnesses of the drudgery which is without dignity. They have known themselves to have been lacking in respect and kindness towards the drudge whom in their hearts they may love. And yet they plunge into the very rut of life which will insensibly lead them to the self-same plight, the same rebuffs, the same sense of glamourless, honourless slavery.
The flight from domesticity and motherhood, especially among the poor, would, therefore, be a foregone conclusion, even without the Feminist agitator, were it not for the insuperable potency of sexual attraction. But, where this is ever so slightly enfeebled or impoverished, it is not surprising that it should fail to present an obstacle to the Feminist ideology and programme. Indeed, among the poorer of the middle class or so-called "lower" middle class, where sensual desires are either less powerful, or if powerful, more likely to be repressed owing to Puritanical or sex-phobic promptings, the flight from domesticity is
It is probably true to say that, among the scores of Feminist agitators, the injustice to which I allude, and which struck me forcibly even as a young man, is often harped upon without any clear ideas either of its causes or its remedy, but merely as a stick with which to castigate Man, and as a goad with which to turn ever greater numbers of young women away from marriage and motherhood.
But in exceptional Feminist leaders like, for instance Charlotte Perkins Stetson, the case against society, relative to this injustice, is argued not merely cogently and with great skill, but also with much wit and a deep consciousness of the issues involved.
There is a good deal of rubbishy sociology, biology and anthropology in her book, Women and Economics; 1 but as a whole, it is a splendid work and, above all, it was at the time of its publication, a necessary piece of special pleading. She is too prone to ascribe all the evils of our civilization to what she calls the "sexuo-economic relation" that is, to the economic dependence of the mother and housewife on her husband and to overlook such equally potent influences as the Socratic values, the purely monetary valuation of all merit, 2 performance and virtue, and the sick and sex phobic values of the prevailing religion.
But what she does argue, and argues very well, is the present gross injustice of allowing one half of the
1 London, 1900
2 See L. Wyatt Papworth's chapter in MARRIED WOMEN'S WORK (London, 1915, pp. 106107), where she writes: "In a commercial age work which is unremunerated and a worker who is unpaid are alike of small value and little esteemed. . . Hence it follows inevitably that the domestic work of women . . . is despised and considered of little worth even to women themselves."
Thus she says: "The salient fact in this discussion is that whatever the economic value of the domestic industry of women is, they do not get it. The women who do most work get the least money, and the women who have the most money do the least work" 2 . . . "She is a worker par excellence, but her work is not such as to effect her economic status." 3 I would add, "neither is it such as to effect her social status, her rank, her meed of honour in the society in which she lives."
Not that Charlotte Stetson regards motherhood as woman's "sacrifice." She quite rightly, I believe, stigmatizes this modern cry as the most arrant nonsense. "A healthy and independent motherhood," she says, "would no more think of taking credit to itself for the right fulfilment of its natural functions than would a cat for bringing forth her kittens, or a sheep her lambs." 4 And in combating the exaggerated veneration of motherly love in modern times, she makes a profound remark, the wisdom of which is too often lacking in Feminist literature, tinctured and frequently prompted as it is, by the secret jealousy or
1 In stating her case thus, I am rather improving it, as the reader can discover for himself by glancing at p. 279, of her book; but all the same the injustice she speaks of exists and has existed for generations, and whether she states it well or badly does not concern me here.
2 Op. cit. pp. 1415.
3 Ibid. p. 22.
4 Ibid. p. 21.
It is not the generally alleged "sacrifice" of women through motherhood, or the fact that the wife secures the normal sexual adaptation of her husband, therefore, that Charlotte Stetson regards as an injustice, because it goes unregarded and unhonoured. For, at all events in the matter of normal sexual adaptation, the wife is equally beholden to her male partner, whilst to regard pregnancy and parturition as a form of sacrifice deserving honour would necessitate our honouring digestion, sweating, hair-growth, and every other normal function. No, what she deplores is the fact that the twofold and incessant labour that of the mother as educator of the infant and young child, and that of the wife as a domestic servant, should go totally unrewarded. For, in the first capacity she toils for society, and in the second, by making her husband's life and performance possible, and by providing for the material wants of her children, she again serves the community by very substantial and indispensable activities.
So that her charge against the present treatment of women amounts to this that in the performance of duties essential to society, woman remains unhonoured and unrewarded, and we come back to our original statement that domesticity in all its aspects has no
1 Op. cit. p. 194. On the subject of the undue veneration of the mother and of motherly love, see also Laura Marholm, op. cit., Vol. II, pp. 186190.
Besides that forthcoming from the quarter of the housewife, there is other evidence to support the charge.
Behold the lot of the paid domestic servant! In the lifetime of the writer, changes have come over her position which leave no doubt whatsoever as to the lack of dignity and honour attaching to domestic dudes even when they are paid.
The change in nomenclature from "servant" to "maid," which occurred about the beginning of the twentieth century; the fact that it is becoming more and more difficult to obtain good house servants, and the fact that the badge of this service, the cap, has become almost obsolete, or else survives only in an ornamental or perfunctory form all these modifications indicate that a stigma is felt to be attached to domestic service. To dwell only on the question of the cap, it is obvious that this once served a wholly utilitarian purpose and became a badge of domestic service only, as it were, by subsequent rationalization. For a cap, worn in such a manner as to cover the female head, is not only a protection to the wearer but also a protection to those for whom she works. It protects the wearer's hair from the dust and din suspended in the air during sweeping, dusting, grate-cleaning, and other household duties, and it protects those for whom its wearer works, against long hairs in the wrong lairs.
Thus for a cook to wear no cap or to effect the foolish substitute for one which may often be seen in good middle-class houses, is not only a practical anomaly and a disregard of elementary caution, but
Let anyone who doubts this try to reinstate in his household the wise and perfectly harmless custom of our mothers and grandmothers, by suggesting that all his domestic servants, and above all the cook, should wear caps.
Charlotte Stetson's remedy for all this will not, of course, bear a moment's scrutiny. But that her charge is just, I knew long before I had ever heard either of her or of her book.
She suggests a reform of the home which will free women from domesticity and make us dependent on communal kitchens and communal cleaners; whilst in urging women to find work outside the home, she quite overlooks the biological aspects of women's life, as was the fashion among the earlier Feminists and as it still is among the ill-informed rank and file of the Woman's Movement to this day.
Whatever remedy may be recommended, it should take into consideration the biological needs and functions of woman. The reason why, for thousands of years, women have been regarded as the domestic workers, while their mates laboured outside the home, was surely that the rearing and educating of children, although by no means a whole-time job, is, after all, one that cannot be performed at stated hours of the
In short, the home is the ideal place for the sexual adaptation of the female, and if she is not to be idle
1 See the chapter contributed by B. L. Hutchins to MARRIED WOMEN's WORK, p. 137, where she writes of the disadvantages of mothers having to be employed away from home: "Another grave evil is the almost inevitable neglect of children. from babyhood upwards." See also p. 5.
Communal restaurants, professional cleaners, menders and crèche attendants, with wives occupied outside the home, do not, therefore, constitute the remedy for the unjust plight in which I, for one, readily admit married women of the so-called working, lower-middle and poorer middle classes now find themselves in our civilization. Nor do I imagine that many of them would accept Charlotte Stetson's reforms, even if they could be guaranteed to remove the injustice of their lot. 2
But surely there are other ways of improving their situation! For instance, since the injustice under which they labour consists chiefly in the lack of dignity, honour and recognition, now attaching to domesticity, why allow the condition to continue one moment longer?
Let us start to-morrow honouring and publicly recognizing and rewarding good motherhood and good housewifery. When the relatives, neighbours, and authorities all agree in lauding a wife as deserving and exemplary, let us make sure that she is publicly honoured and receives some substantial reward.
1 One of the best and most eloquent treatises advocating this solution of the woman problem (but only from the French point of view) is Le Solitaire's LA FEMME NE DOIT PAS TRAVAILLER (Paris, 1886). The late Mr. John Burns apparently wished to embody this idea in some form of legislation, for he wished it to be illegal for married women to work outside the home.
2 Indeed, in MARRIED WOMEN's WORK, the point is repeatedly emphasized that married women, particularly when they are mothers, resent having to leave home to earn money, and that, without exception, they would prefer to stay at home if only their husbands' earnings would allow them to do so. See pp. 4, 12, 109, 135, 138, 139, 146, 148, 151, 154, 155, 159, 160, 161, 162.
A wife whom the opinion of relatives and of the public generally upholds as exemplary on all these counts might, in addition to receiving honour and rewards, enjoy certain privileges. For instance, she might in London always have a good free seat at all public celebrations, such as Lord Mayor's Show Day, Coronations, Openings of Parliament, the Trooping of the Colour. She might be allowed to travel first-class on the railways at third-class rates, or third-class for half rates. She might enjoy what soldiers enjoy on the Continent admittance at reduced rates to all theatres. music halls, concerts, etc. She would need to wear a badge of her Order, and the Order would be reserved for wives and mothers, the holders of which would take precedence of other women. Special Royal Drawing Rooms might even be held for such women, and the rule that none could qualify over forty years of age would encourage early marriages.
No doubt any ingenious reader will be able to criticize, modify or add to this list of means whereby exemplary wives could be honoured, and he might even suggest, and quite rightly, a sub-Order for honouring domestic servants. But no matter what our civiliza-
For part at least of woman's sense of inferiority, and her indignation at the influences which impose it on her, have arisen less from any careful computation of her capacities as compared with man's, than from the fact that she has long been associated with a class of work deliberately valued as inferior by a vulgar and purse-ridden culture. Hence the implied slight in the slogan "Woman's place is the home!" a slogan which, if domesticity were elevated to its proper rank, would involve no slight whatsoever, but rather an honour to those of whom it was said. The resentment which it provokes in women's breasts is due wholly to its present implied slight.
Now, there can be no doubt that, among the many forces which have lent momentum to the Woman's Movement, this genuine grievance and injustice has played a major role. Although the extreme conclusions to which it has led in the writings of a Feminist like Charlotte Stetson cannot be upheld, the significance of such a writer's complaints, as apart from the remedies she suggests, should not be overlooked.
So much for one grievance and injustice, the past and even present reality of which no one, except a rabid misogynist, would venture to contest.
There now remains to be discussed what, in the minds of many readers, including a large majority of women, will seem a less obvious grievance and injustice, although it happens to be one which, in my view,
It is a grievance and injustice which only the few have recognised, and of which I may say I have been aware for many a long year, although I came across it for the first time in print only in 1937, in James Corin's excellent little monograph on Mating Marriage and the Status of Women. 1 Dr. Fritz Wittels, in a book published a year earlier than Corin's, 2 also notices this grievance and injustice; but I read this book only in 1942, although I had had it by me some time.
Let us consider the grievance as I first appreciated it through the circumstances that I had an elder sister. She was an attractive girl with ardent sensibilities. But, although she was always the centre of masculine attention, she was fastidious and hard to please. I knew pretty well the kind of man of whom she approved, and I can remember two in particular for whom she would have fallen. It struck me at the time, however, and has often struck me since in regard to other girls, that in our civilisation, the fact that a respectable girl is unable to be a free mate is unable, that is, to offer herself and to profess her choice, and is limited to all kinds of wiles and artifices in order to manifest her preference, places a severe and often
1 First published by the Walter Scott Publishing Co., Ltd., London, 1910.
2 DIE SEXUELLE NOT. (C W. Stern, WIEN UND LEIPZIG, 1909).
It is said that all women can ultimately get the man they really want. But is this true of the kind of girl whom we are prone to consider the best? Can we imagine, for instance, Emily Brontë setting her cap at a man? As things are, at any rate, any number of accidental circumstances may conspire to wreck even the best laid plans. And what if a girl does not wish or like to stoop to the wiles or artifices of a covert man-catcher? What too if the man in the case happens to be timid and diffident two qualities which do not necessarily argue lack of passion, but often the reverse.
Given such a situation the girl proud, the man diffident and add the circumstance of a sudden separation due to illness, a change of work, a professional call abroad, or what not, and an opportunity coveted by both parties may be lost never to return,
That is one aspect, and it explains how so many excellent women come to marry the next best, or even the third and fourth rate.
In our civilisation, free mating for the female has become a practice associated only with the prostitute It is the most despised class of women who retain the right to mate freely, and the price they pay in repute and status is ruinous.
James Corin, who saw this grievance very clearly, argues with some cogency that, like the female animal, the human female was until comparatively recently a freemater, but that only powerful and royal females retained that right when first the others lost it. Thus, he argues the wife was originally a despised creature, very much in the same position as the prostitute to day. He points out that the very word "wife," which
"The wife," he says, "has developed since the time when man was a Simian, not from the free-mate of a social animal, but from the despised slave of a lustful male." 2 And he adds: "What then has marriage done for woman? Apparently it has destroyed her independence, taken from her the control of her own body." 3 But while accomplishing this feat and making it an essential part of a civilisation which has now lasted for thousands of years, man has gradually made the wife respectable, while he has relegated the free-mating female to the lowest rung of the social ladder.
Corin sums up his thesis as follows:
"In the first period the human female rules. She dictates to the male in sexual affairs this is free mating. . . .
"In the second period the male captures foreign females for his use, because his own are too chaste; these foreign females become his slave wives. He courts and mates with females of his own tribe at yearly festivals like Australian corroborees.
"In the third period the institution of marriage has become the dominant form . . . so much so that
1 This is the derivation suggested by Skeat. Sec his larger Etymological Dictionary. See also Karl Weinhold's DIE DEUTSCHEN FRAUEN IN DEM MITTELALTER (Vienna, 1882), Vol. I, pp. 3, 4, and 5, where Corin's derivation is confirmed, though the interpretation is different. Nevertheless, Weinhold shows conclusively that vif, wife, and weib, were all words which once related to an inferior class of woman, and that, certainly in Germany and northern Europe, Frau, or frowe, or frouwe, was the title of the free woman, whether married or single.
2 Op. cit. p. 95.
3 Op. cit. p. 126.
Now Corin speaks of women consciously feeling this loss of the right of free-mating as an injustice, and disliking our man-made civilisation in consequence. But here, I believe. Dr. Fritz Wittels comes nearer the mark. He states more or less the same case as Corin, and argues that our man-made civilisation, by lobbing women of the right of free-mating, gets to be hated By them. He implies, however, that their hatred is largely or most often unconscious; that, in their hearts, they are anarchists and in favour of revolution 2nd social upheavals, despite their reputation for conservatism, because the whole weight of their unconscious impulses is constantly thrown in the scales against man's summons to them to accept his cultural pattern.
Thus Wittels says: "Our social order has been nothing but detrimental to woman. When chastity, fidelity and modesty were not demanded of her, her life was much easier to bear. And that is why woman's unconscious mind does not respond to the appeal of our masculine order of society. Her unconscious is anarchical. The orbit of her primitive being coincides but rarely with the course plotted out for her by the laws and conventions man has imposed upon her." 2
1 Op. cit. p. 181. Had he been writing now, he would certainly have added film stars to princesses. For it is significant for his theory that the freedom attained by the film star undoubtedly enables her to become a free mater, and she generally seizes the opportunity.
2 Op. cit. pp. 137148.
That such a deep and unconscious loathing of our man-made culture should, in exceptional cases, manifest itself as a homicidal tendency against men as individuals, and, in a large number of women, as mere hostility to men in general, ought not to surprise us. Indeed, Wittels goes so far as to argue that even in the case of a Charlotte Corday, a Wjera Sassulitsch, a Tatjana Leontiew and a Jeanne d'Arc, the ultimate interpretation of their acts of violence as "warrior prowess," "political assassination," or "attempted assassination for patriotic reasons," was but a last-minute disguise of their deep loathing of man, and of their longing to kill a man any man or men.
This may or may not be so without in the least invalidating Corin and Wittels' claim that our man-made civilisation has robbed women of a freedom they once possessed and cherished the freedom to mate when and where they chose. Deep down in their unconscious minds, this deprivation, although centuries
1 Coleridge also hints at this in his TABLE TALK. On June 15th, 1824, he said: "The fondness for dancing in English women is the reaction of their reserved manners. It is the only way in which they can throw themselves forth in natural liberty." He has here perceived the same fact recognized by Corin and Wittels; for although dances may offer but a symbolized form of free-mating, they clearly provide the best substitute compatible with the preservation of respectability.
Wittels does not unravel the tangle. He suggests no remedy for the situation in which women are placed by our civilisation; while Corin, who saw the dilemma as plainly as the Austrian doctor, merely shrugs his shoulders and declares the lot of women unalterable unless we wish to wreck our culture. He says in effect: "It is the feature of human progress woman has to be sacrificed for the good of the race," and he shows how constantly success has attended those races who have sacrificed their women-folk's coveted freedom in mating to the demands of the male cultural pattern. 1
Corin's general argument, together with the conclusion just quoted above, has received support in recent years from J. D. Unwin's sensational work, Sex and Culture; 2 but only in regard to the alleged sacrifice of the female's free-mating impulse, not in regard to the resentment, of the sacrifice still felt consciously or unconsciously by the female of our culture.
It may be, however, that at least the unconscious resentment of the female for the loss of her free-mating privilege, as described by Wittels, is covered by what the Freudians regard as "penis-envy," and that the latter is largely tinctured, if not strengthened by this unconscious resentment. It may be difficult in the process of psycho-analysis to disentangle the two. Wittels, who is a convinced Freudian, does not
1 Op. cit. See the whole of Chapter VIII.
2 Oxford University Press, 1934.
At all events, as one of the many forces urging women to revolt against their position of restricted sexual privilege in our man-made culture, the resentment, conscious or unconscious, due to their loss of mating freedom, seems to me likely to be a powerful one. Nor do I see how the independent theses of Corin and Wittels can be rejected, unless it be from the quarter of the psycho-analysts themselves. But even this possible source of refutation is rendered unlikely by the fact that Wittels himself is a psychoanalyst, and therefore probably drew the evidence for his thesis from his experience with female patients. 1
The fact that this force the resentment felt consciously or unconsciously for the loss of free-mating is everywhere misinterpreted and disguised by leading Feminists and their followers, and presented publicly only in the demand for political, professional, educational or other kinds of "freedom," need not disturb us; because the only rationalisation of this kind of resentment which would be acceptable, even to the Feminists themselves, would necessarily be one as remote as possible from anything so indelicate and shameful as the true source of the trouble. We now know enough about the process of rationalise "shameful" impulses emanating from the unconscious to feel no difficulty in accepting as possible a degree of disfigurement or distortion of the truth to the point
l It should be noted that Freud, himself, also recognized that women are prone to adopt a hostile attitude to culture. See his CIVILIZATION AND ITS DISCONTENTS (London, 1939, p. 73).
We may conclude with Corin that this sacrifice of the female's free-mating privilege is essential to our progress and the successful survival of our culture, and we may bear with Unwin when he supports Corin's position; but we may do this without in any sense wishing to deny that probably, in the Unconscious of women, the sacrifice is still felt as a ground for deep resentment and therefore for revolt against our cultural pattern. If, however, it is thus felt as a ground for deep resentment, many of the features of Feminism which would otherwise call for explanation and elucidation not Hitherto offered, become abundantly clear. We see that those paltry prizes and doubtful privileges, of which the Feminists have made so much the Parliamentary Vote, Superior and Academical Education, Professional Equality, and Freedom of Access to Public as well as every other Office and which often seem to reflect an unfavourable light on women's taste and judgment, are but a rationalisation, or subsequent clothing in respectable dress by the conscious mind, of impulses which would shock even the most strident of the advocates, both female and male, of Women's Freedom.
So much for the second grievance and injustice under which women languish in our culture. But, unlike the first, it can, as Corin points out, scarcely be redressed without forfeiting the survival of our civilisation as such, although its power as a factor in social reform is not thereby destroyed.
Further evidence, if it were needed, in support of Corin and Wittels' point of view, confirmed as it is by Unwin, is forthcoming from such phenomena as the Bolshevik Revolution in Russia, which very early in its career harnessed the influence of women to its leading chariots by granting a sexual freedom which was little short of licence, and facilities for mating and unmating which fell little short of promiscuity. Phenomena of the same sort can be detected in most revolutionary movements, and if women are declared
I, who have lived through two World Wars, moreover, can testify to the obvious enjoyment of both by at least the younger women, married and unmarried, of all classes in England. I have observed them in large cities and in rural areas, and my considered opinion, arrived at after living through ten years of hostilities, is that women below the age of the menopause are extraordinarily happy in the conditions created by such major conflicts. Nor should their conscious or conventional professions to the contrary be allowed to deceive one. War dislocates the customary life of the nations waging it. Certainly in civil life it relaxes discipline, makes vigilance and supervision on the part of elders more difficult than in peace time, and loosens most people's i.e., both men's and girls' anchorage. The young and even the middle-aged of both sexes thus find themselves not only more free, but also much more thrown into the company of strangers, than is usual in times of peace. The very threat of danger, which lurks everywhere, but more especially in the immediate future of the younger men, tends to impart a temerarious spirit to the population. Prudence goes by the board; reserve is discarded, and situations and actions which only the most daring would look upon as permitted in ordinary times,
Besides, the strange young men, consisting chiefly of soldiers, airmen and naval personnel, who appeal in their various ranks to the women of all classes, are inclined to be even less constrained than are their opposite numbers in the country over which they swarm. True, they are not an invading army. But except for the fact that they are not expected to wage war on the inhabitants of the allied country on which they land, there is in their position every possible and essential feature of an adventure in which licence and conquest are certainly indicated. Although they are allies, they behave as if the women of the country they are visiting were at least fair game. What is more, they find these women ready if not eager to accept the situation as it presents itself.
Free-mating is in the air. Everything is allowed. To-morrow? Who thinks of to-morrow when to-morrow we may die? Can any one wonder that women love war?
Proust, like myself, was struck during the War of Belgian Independence, by the suspicious fortitude with which women and girls would study the Roll of Honour over their hearty breakfast, and between two
But when we consider the consolations at hand and, above all, the major consolation offered by the magic restoration of age-long lost Free Mating, is their behaviour so very surprising? Even if we knew nothing of the theories of Corin or Wittels, should we not be able independently to reach their conclusion simply by watching what happens in a World War?
Both in London and in the rural areas of England especially the latter I have, of course, seen many young female lives wrecked by these free-mating conditions. But, by and large, and even reckoning among the evil consequences of war conditions the thousands of young wives hopelessly debauched and alienated from their husbands, 2 I am still persuaded that, at the
1 See LE TEMPS RETROUVE, Vol. I, p. 109. See also my WOMAN: A VINDICATION, p. 261.
2 In Italy, alone, British Army Chaplains found that 20 per cent. of soldiers' wives were unfaithful (see Daily Press, 3446). We were also told about the same time that services divorces in the spring of 1946 already numbered 48,000. Not all these were necessarily due to the infidelity of wives; but certainly the majority must have been. On May 22nd, 1946, for instance, at Leicestershire Assizes, Mr. Justice Cassels said: "There are far too many women in this country who, while their husbands have been away as soldiers, have thought fit to take on with another man and be unfaithful." (Daily Press, 23546). Even free-mating with blacks was not eschewed by many of the married women and girls of this country, and on Feb. 17th, 1946, under the heading of "Nation Faced with Big Social Problem," the NEWS OF THE WORLD detailed the number of wives and unmarried women in various countries who had borne coloured babies. "It is a problem," said the N.O.W. reporter, "the solution of which is regarded as a matter of urgency to save the breaking up of homes where husbands are ready to forgive their erring wives, but only on condition that they place the children in institutional or other care." Finally, to show how women and girls enjoy war conditions generally, see the Daily Press of June 12th, 1946, which reported the clamour raised by demobilized A.T.S. girls to get back into the Army. According to the report, 50 per Cent. of
Thus the theories advanced by Corin and Wittels concerning the deep and largely unconscious detestation that all women feel for our man made "law and order," because of its exclusion of a privilege long ago common to all females, animal and human, seem to be borne out by the facts, and in reckoning the forces behind the Feminist drive for Freedom and Emancipation, as also behind the Feminist hatred of Man, they cannot be wholly ignored.
applicants at recruiting centres consisted of girls who had already been in the A.T.S.